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Paris: Wild camping in the Forest of Fontainebleau 


A weekend in Paris is a wonderful thing.  But you can throw a bit of surprise and adventure into your time in the iconic, recognisable city scenes by jumping on a train (40 minutes from Gare de Lyon) out to spend a night in a bivvy in the beautiful Forest of Fontainebleau. The forest's oak, pine and beech trees spread for more than 100 square miles. 
There is also great scope for bouldering if you enjoy that, with huge numbers of climbs available on the unusual rock formations dotted throughout Fontainebleau.  There are so many climbs that it can be a little overwhelming. Just pick one spot and enjoy it! There are guidebooks for climbing in the forest if you are keen to do more than dabble. Bas Cuvier and Apremont are both popular. 

Level of Difficulty: Medium (if you're going to bivvy).  

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag. 

Best time to go: late spring or early summer.

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There really is nowhere quite like Paris. New York may have the buzz and London may have the nightlife, but Paris has the romance, the architecture and the food.  The ‘City of Light’ has long been the preferred city break destination for doe-eyed couples who come for the unrivalled architecture, the quality of its restaurants and romantic night cruises down the River Seine.

 

But there is more to Paris than just the language of love. This place is also the capital of fashion, haute cuisine and is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. Paris is full of galleries dripping with artistic masterpieces and streets filled with some of the most iconic buildings in the world. Anyone fancy a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or a walk along the Champs Elysées with its endless array of designer stores?

 
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Shopping


If you're looking to splash out on an original gift for someone special, then how does some personalised perfume sound? Take part in a perfume making workshop with L'ABC du PARFUM (1.5 hours and 75 euros) and you'll learn how to select the right notes to complement your chosen scent, as well as coming away with a 50ml bottle of your creation. For more information visit abcduparfum.fr.


If you've got kids, then let Paris be their playground at Les Berges sur Seine, a recently renovated pedestrianised zone on the Left Bank. Check the website to keep up to date with the many outdoor activities on offer, from city camping to willow-weaving workshops! lesberges.paris.fr

Sightseeing


From 20-23 July Paris will be dancing to the beat of the Festival Fnac Live. Thirty free concerts will take place in front of the Hôtel de Ville, with Lianne La Havas and Hyphen Hyphen among the lineup. For more information visit fnac.com/fnaclive.


Fashion fans shouldn't miss the "Fashion Forward, 3 Centuries of Fashion, (1715-2016)" exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Featuring 300 items from the museum's collections, the exhibition is an invitation to discover the best fashion moments of the last three centuries, from 18th century court dresses, to modern pieces from such designers as Hussein Chalayan and Chanel. Catch it before 14 August 2016. (www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr)


Calling all Bond fans! Don't miss James Bond, 007 The Exhibition, 50 Years of Bond Style at the Grande Halle de la Villette. Packed with over 500 top-secret objects, including orginal sketches, the Q Branch Smart Blood Gadget and the gold Spectre ring. Until 4 September 2016. (www.lavillette.com)


The Helena Almeida exhibition at the Jeu de Paume offers a rare opportunity to discover almost half a century of work from the contemporary Portuguese artist. Paintings, photographs, performances and videos produced from the 1960s to the present day shed light on Almeida's interest in breaking the limits of space, as well as the integral role of the body in her oeuvre. Catch it before 22 May 2016. www.jeudepaume.org


Calling all film buffs! From 18-27 March Paris will play host to the 38th Cinéma du Réel Festival. This documentary-focused event celebrates cinematic heritage, offers the chance to see rare documentaries and explores themes of censorship and propaganda in cinema. cinemadureel.org


Half a century after his death, the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine is paying homage to Le Corbusier with Chandigarh : 50 ans après Le Corbusier, an exhibition dedicated to his large-scale urban project on Chandigarh. Until 29 February 2016, citechaillot.fr.

Key Areas


Bric-a-brac chic is making a comeback on the Parisian shopping scene, thanks to a host of hip boutiques like Bazartherapy. Located on rue Beaurepaire, this hoarder's paradise is chock-a-block with kitsch knickknacks and offbeat gifts priced from just €2. You can also pick up weird and wonderful creations by up-and-coming designers, from geometric coffee tables to camel-shaped teapots. 15 rue Beaurepaire, 75010, bazartherapy.com.


If you find yourself craving a moment of calm while shopping on the Champs Elysée, seek refuge at its neighbouring secret garden, the Jardin de la Nouvelle France (formerly called Jardin de la Vallée Suisse). With its flowing stream and wild greenery peppered with bamboo, lilacs, orange trees and sprawling ivy, this haven of zen ought to slow down your pulse. Located at the intersection between Cours la Reine and avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, 75008.


If you're indulging in an afternoon of window shopping, then be sure to swing by Bobby, a favourite among French fashion bloggers. This second-hand womenswear shop features pieces from brands such as Topshop, Claudie Pierlot and Yves Saint Laurent, just waiting to be snapped up at a fraction of their original prices. (www.bobbyparis.com)


If you're looking to pick up some beer for your apéritif, then shun supermarket six-packs and head to The People's Drugstore, a staple shopping destination for the biggest beef buffs of Paris. The walls are lined with over 550 bottles from all over the the world. You can chat to fellow enthusiasts and even chill your bottles in a matter of minutes, using the special in-store machine - fresh! 78 rue des Martyrs, 75018. peopledrugstore.fr


Berkeley Books of Paris is more than just a quaint, secondhand English language bookshop - it's also a hub of creativity and a hangout for artists and free thinkers alike. Bookworms can buy, sell and swap rare editions, while culture enthusiasts can attend colourful, cultural events, from interpretive dance to slam poetry. 8 rue Casimir Delavigne, berkeleybooksofparis.com


If you fancy planning an apéritif with a twist, then ditch the red wine and head to Vodka Lab, Paris' first vodka cellar. Brothers Tomasz and Rafael will be more than happy to walk you through the weird and wonderful flavours on offer, from cucumber to caramel. Prices start at just 13 euros. 57 Rue Saint-Maur, 75011, tel: +33981472500. vodka-lab.com.

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